Nordic baking may not be part of the household cookbook section, but it ought to be. In this new book, Hanne Risgaard introduces American bakers to the joys and intricacies of baking with organic grains. Taking a cue from an Old Danish proverb quoted in the book, "'If only it had been a grain of barley,' sighed the hungry hen, when she found a diamond in the dung-pile," this book is about nurturing that which sustains the body and soul. Readers learn about baking, grain, and Danish culture in this warm and inviting book.Co-owner and operator of Skærtoft Mølle, a working stone mill, Risgaard is intimately familiar with multiple grains, their properties, and the ways in which those properties translate into different tastes, textures, and color in baked goods. She began her career in media but after forty years in that business, she turned her attention to farming, and eventually organic farming. The Skærtoft Stable Kitchen at Skærtoft started offering bread baking classes in 2008, and in 2011, Home Baked
was nominated for Best Bread Book of the Year at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.The book begins with a foreword by Jeffrey Hamelman, the director of the Baking and Education Center at the King Arthur Flour Company in Norwich, Vermont. He reveals an initial apprehension about making an outstanding baking book for the home baker, but is soon relieved by Risgaard's "clear and abiding concern and commitment for human health." In addition to her discussion of the benefits of organic grains, she also gives the reader an appreciation for the Nordic landscape and palette.American bakers will find lovely photographs and unique ingredients throughout the book, such as lavender, spelt, cardamom, elderflower, and more. They will also find that all of the measurements are given in grams. This may initially be off-putting for those accustomed to measuring cups and spoons, but Risgaard defends her choice, noting that baking, like chemistry, requires very specific measurement and a scale gives the necessary specificity for at-home success. She also gives very specific, well-illustrated instruction on kneading techniques.After the foreword, the author gives her own introduction of her life and work at Skærtoft Mølle, then she launches into an introduction to the equipment, ingredients, and basic tenets of bread baking. She offers recipes with yeast, sourdoughs, and other starters before expanding into other baking with baking powder and without a rising agent. Recipes include Pear and Sourdough Bread, Buns for Tilters, Fredericksgård Lunch Bread as well as Hanne's Lemon Pie, Fritters with Herbs, Chou with Cheese, and Elderflower Muffins with Mascarpone. The final section of the book features leftovers, a thoughtful addition for families trying to stretch a dollar or be attentive to their environmental impact.This is an easy to follow, surprising, and inspiring baking book. Risgaard's joy in sharing her craft is contagious and home cooks will find themselves headed to the kitchen for the both warmth this book promises and that the recipes deliver.
"Many books capture the romance of baking, while others convey the nuts and bolts--but rarely does one book hit both chords at the same time. With Home Baked
, Hanne Risgaard has written a practical, beautiful, and, most importantly, inspiring bread book for the ages. Every page, every recipe, makes me want to gather the grain with my own hands and transform it into earthy, delicious, and gorgeous loaves of bread."--Peter Reinhart, author of Whole Grain Breads and Artisan Breads Everyday
"When I first became a baker, I made a career-changing visit to an organic wheatfield and mill. As a baker I thought I knew flour, but it wasn't until I stood in a wheatfield that I realized that my passion for bread was part of a larger story. Home Baked
is a testament to the craft that I have enjoyed since 1983. Refreshingly told from the perspective of the miller, the recipes are true to their Nordic origins and never step too far away from the fields on which the grain is grown."--Daniel Leader, author of Bread Alone and Local Breads
"Hanne Risgaard's connection to and understanding of the grains grown and milled on her land at Skaertoft shines through in this beautiful collection of Nordic recipes, drawn from the rich baking heritage of northern Europe. Home Baked
is atmospheric and appealing!"--Richard Bertinet, author of Dough: Simple Contemporary Breads
"Home Baked is an absolute treasure! Plus, its timing couldn't be better with more people (myself included) exploring flours other than modern commercial wheat. I think people will like cooking by weight rather than volume-it will do so much to insure success in making Hanne Risgaard's straight forward, mouthwatering, and very promising recipes.--Deborah Madison, author of Local Flavors
About the Author
ABOUT THE FARMSkærtoft Mølle-literally translated as "Cut-Road Mill"-is situated on Als, an idyllic island in the southeast of Denmark, and has been in the Bonde family since 1892.Als is situated in the Baltic Sea, some 30km from the German-Danish border, and was formerly a part of the German Grand Duchy of Schleswig. Because of its history of changing ownership between the two countries, both Danes and Germans continue to feel at home in the area.In 1991, the decision was taken to run Skærtoft Mølle as a solely organic enterprise, and Hanne and Jørgen continue to oversee all of its endeavors with love, care, and attention.Besides flour, Skærtoft Mølle produces grains known as "pearls": as in pearl spelt, pearl rye, and pearl barley. They select whole grains of spelt, rye, and barley, and then polish them, removing the woody outer husk to make "pearls." These were a staple food of older times, providing a solid, healthy diet to folk throughout Scandinavia and northern Europe. The New Nordic Cuisine combines health, well-being, and enjoyment with the best of modern gastronomy-and the renaissance of the pearls is proving to have a vital role in this. Copenhagen's celebrated NOMA, which recently received a "World's Best Restaurant" award, uses Skærtoft Mølle products.Skærtoft Mølle is run by author Hanne Risgaard, her husband Jørgen Bonde, and her daughter, Marie-Louise, who is the translator of this book. Hanne Risgaard and Jørgen took over a previous farming operation in 1983 and converted to entirely organic in 1991. In 2004 they decided to turn their empty buildings into a mill and start producing their own organic, stone-ground flour. Since then, the family-run company has produced a steadily growing range of prize-winning products that both stimulate the senses and follow modern culinary trends. The products from Skærtoft are mainly sold in high-profile supermarkets and restaurants. In 2006, Marie-Louise joined her parents full-time in product development, marketing, and management of the farm and mill. She is also an agronomist specializing in organic agriculture and is a fifth-generation farmer of Skærtoft. She started teaching bread-baking classes at Skærtoft in 2008. In 2010 Skærtoft won the Danish Design Award for the design of their packaging.
Jeffrey Hamelman has been baking professionally for nearly thirty years. For half that time he owned a bakery in Vermont. He has served as a baking and pastry instructor at several culinary schools and has baked and taught in France, Germany, Canada, Ireland, Brazil, and Japan. In 1996, he was selected as captain of Baking Team USA, the three-person team that represented the United States in Paris at the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie
-the World Cup of Baking. In 1998, he became the 76th Certified Master Baker in the United States. He is director of the Bakery and Baking Education Center at the King Arthur Flour Company in Norwich, Vermont. In this capacity, he teaches professional baking classes one week each month and bakes for three weeks each month in King Arthur's production bakery.